A jury in New Zealand on Friday convicted a 27-year-old man of murdering British backpacker, Grace Millane.
The accused, who has not been named by the court for legal reasons, entered a not guilty plea, saying that she had died accidentally during consensual sex between two young people.
However, at the end of the three-week trial the jury found the man had killed her intentionally by strangulation.
The man was remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced on February 21.
The victim’s parents, who had flown from the UK to New Zealand for the trial, wept as the verdict was delivered.
Her parents welcomed the verdict but said it would not reduce their “pain and suffering” in the year since her death, saying she was taken in “the most brutal fashion.”
“Grace was our sunshine and she will be missed forever,” said her father outside court.
Murdered during backpacking trip
Grace Millane was murdered on December 2, 2018, while on a year-long backpacking trip after finishing university.
During the trial, the court heard how she had met up with the man for drinks via dating app, Tinder, on the night before her 22nd birthday.
The pair went to his hotel room in central Auckland, where he strangled her during sex.
Following her death, the accused put Millane’s body in a suitcase before renting a car and driving about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) into bushland outside of Auckland and burying her body.
The victim was found days later on December 9.
The accused took intimate photographs of the victim after her death and went on another Tinder date the day after her murder with another woman where he recounted a story about a woman dying accidentally during sex that “went all wrong.”
The man’s Google searches from the night of her death included “hottest fire” as he tried to decide how to dispose of her body.
His defense lawyers argued against this, saying these were random searches.
The court also heard testimony from another woman who previously dated the same man, saying she had also feared for her life during a sexual encounter with him after he restricted her breathing without consent.
Grace’s death sent shockwaves across the country that prides itself on welcoming backpackers and tourists. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke about New Zealanders feeling “hurt and shame” that she was killed in their country.
kmm/rt (AP, dpa)
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